We had a short educational journey over the weekend. In celebration of our second science unit this year, marine biology, we decided a trip to the shore was in order. Our boys had never seen the ocean (I know, I'm a horrible mom!) and JT has been asking for years to visit an aquarium.
I was not sure what to expect from Ocean City, NJ in mid-November. I knew we certainly wouldn't be doing any swimming, but I thought it would be warm enough for playing on the beach and possibly even walking along the edge of the water. The weather prediction called for 60 degrees and sunny. It turns out, 60 degrees and sunny with a substantial breeze, is a bit on the chilly side. We managed to spend an hour or so on the beach, but in heavy coats and hoods. The boys had a good time anyway. We came home with a collection of shells, seaweed and a possible shark tooth.
After two days at the shore, we moved inland to the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, NJ. We really enjoyed this hands-on aquarium. The boys were able to touch sharks, stingrays, starfish, sea cucumbers and anemones. How awesome is that?! They had a diverse collection of animals. We were disappointed to find that all of their shows were in the mornings and we didn't arrive until after lunch. If we plan another trip in the future, we will be sure to go in the morning hours.
Back at home on Tuesday, we made a microscope slide of the seaweed from the shore and another from some mint from our garden. We compared the structure of terrestrial plants to marine plant life. We also looked at our sand samples we brought home with my hand-held Carson microscope. This awesome tool may be one of my favorites for our classroom. If you have never looked at sand up close...you are really missing something amazing. The book, A Grain of Sand by Dr. Gary Greenberg, is currently somewhere in the postal system on its way to my home.
Our marine science unit will probably be the shortest of our four science units this year, but I think it might end up being my favorite!